“Why do you keep bringing God into everything? Don’t you know that the only reality is the field of energy? All that we need to ensure is that our thoughts are absolutely pure so that we attract the right energy. Why keep referring to a fictitious God?” – a dear friend of mine questioned me. On the other hand, another friend warned me – “Please don’t teach young children the truth about energy and deny them the opportunity of becoming friendly with a ‘God’ during their growing years!” Both the messages were too loud for me to ignore. They were both questioning the very existence of a ‘God!’ I wondered which ‘God’ they were denying – the million finite forms of the various religions or the very existence of a supreme force? Oh No! They hadn’t denied the energy field and had certainly accepted a supreme power. It was just that their definition of ‘God’ had changed from the mould of a finite form to the mould of Infinite Existence. My God, on the other hand, had grown to become all-inclusive but had nevertheless remained deeply personal.
How did the early man find God? Right from the time of birth, man kept setting goals to achieve. Goals of physical growth and self reliance; goals of intellectual understanding; goals of materialistic abundance; goals of emotional sustenance – a never ending list of goals that have remained somewhere in the future. Man’s understanding of progress has always remained, except for the enlightened few, achieving something that is right now not a part of him. Man wondered what is that ultimate goal on reaching which, he wouldn’t need to ‘progress’ any further; that ultimate goal on reaching which, he would feel he has ‘arrived!’ To that ultimate goal he gave the name ‘God’. Now defining that goal, man realized that while death was the biological end of life, the purpose of his birth was not death. If annihilation were our goal to life, why live at all? Man realized that the purpose of life was to ‘exist’. But he also realized that such an existence in slumber was not attractive to him. He wanted to exist, aware of his existence, not in a stupor of unconsciousness. Therefore he realized that his two fold goal of life were ‘existence’ and ‘consciousness’.
Despite these being the ultimate goal of mankind, many resort to suicide and give up their existence; many succumb to alcohol and drugs to take away their consciousness. If conscious existence is the goal of mankind, why do some people relinquish that goal? Man realized that existence and consciousness were useless to him if he could not remain ‘happy’. He would rather die or lose his consciousness of unhappiness, than live to experience it. He wanted a conscious existence only if he was assured ‘joy’ or ‘bliss’ as part of that package deal. And thus we define our Hindu God – “Sat-Chit-Ananda” meaning “Existence-Consciousness-Bliss”. The ultimate goal of man has always been to ‘live consciously in Bliss.’
When my consciousness is limited to my role as a wife, I seek perfect harmony and peace in my relationship with my husband alone. The ‘in-laws’ are treated as ‘out-laws’ and are not part of my existence with my husband. But the minute I decide consciously to be a good wife and a good daughter-in-law, I begin to seek harmony in both the roles and my definition of God extends to ‘Sat-Chit-Ananda’ (to exist consciously in blissful harmony) with respect to both those roles. Similarly, every time I add a new dimension to my personality – as a friend, a confidant, a teacher, a mother, a mother-in-law, a grandmother, and so on – every new role in my life expands my definition of God to include perfection in all these roles. This individualized “Sat-Chit-Ananda” will keep expanding, perhaps till one day I find the whole of existence as within my blissful consciousness. That, according to many revered sages of the Advaita philosophy, is the ultimate goal of mankind – a cosmic consciousness of ever existing, ever-new Bliss.
Indeed God is ‘Prana’ or ‘Life Energy’. We all know that human beings need food and water, oxygen and sunlight to survive. But we also know that stuffing a dead body with food and laying it in the open sun with an oxygen tank, cannot bring it back alive. Science has discovered that the whole universe is made of atoms and sub-atomic particles. But some intelligence guides a set of atoms to become a log of wood and another set of atoms to become my hand. What is this intelligence that makes one set of atoms become a metal and another set of atoms my teeth? Yes, indeed, that intelligence is the life energy we call ‘God’. But we men don’t view this world as a set of atoms. Till we learn to de-materialize and again re-materialize a group of atoms into any given form, man cannot really define ‘God’ or have control over His ‘life energy’.
If a lotus leaf is to be viewed only though a microscope, it loses its form and becomes just a set of atoms. In order to perceive it as a lotus leaf, we need to maintain a finite distance and a specific point of focus or else we shall lose the beauty of that leaf to infinity. When we observe the stars from earth, they certainly remain static. But science has proved that every star – the whole of the universe for that matter – is always in motion and is expanding. Nor do the stars disappear during the day; the light from the sun prevents us from seeing the stars. Just because they are not visible, would it mean that the stars do not exist during the day? Or for that matter, can we deny the fact of our eyes that the stars remain static in our beautiful night sky? Our planet earth is spherical. But to me, as I walk on its surface, with the soft beach sand under my feet, the glorious sun rise over the Bay of Bengal, looking at the vast expanse of still blue water, the earth looks very much flat and straight.
Rabindranath Tagore writes, “There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, without losing its infinity. If this meeting is dissolved, then things become unreal.” The stars are in motion if you observe them from near, but to our distant vision they will remain static. The earth is a sphere just as all other planets when viewed from afar, but the earth under my feet is most certainly flat and straight as I walk down the sun-kissed beach. God is Infinite Energy. But just as we human beings need a finite focal point to perceive a lotus leaf as a lotus leaf and not as a bunch of atoms, we need to define ‘God’ within our understanding of the finite and not merely as the formless Infinite. We have to perceive the excitation of the mind as a positive emotion and not just as an impersonal thought.
Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji writes, “Many thinkers posit God as Infinite and impersonal and that He cannot be finite and personal. This conception limits the almightiness of God. Just as invisible hydrogen – oxygen gas can be condensed into vapor, or water, or frozen into a solid as ice, so God the impersonal spirit and invisible Cosmic Consciousness can and does materialize Itself into a great Light, into an Intelligible Voice of any language, into any desired form, and into a finite personal body. God can materialize a new human body…One can say with truth that the entire Absolute God is vibrating and manifesting in that newly materialized body, but it would be a metaphysical blunder to say that God is limited to that body… God is not confined to that form, nor has He adopted any such form as His sole personal image. The Infinite is infinite in His expressions; that is why God has never had a permanent definite form.”
God has been perceived by many illumined souls in the form they chose to perceive Him. Every time we conceive of God in any particular form, He will express Himself through that very same form. If we can just expand our concept of God to become all-inclusive, we can surely perceive Him everywhere. As Rabindranath Tagore’s poetic words explain, “The prosody of the stars can be explained in the classroom by diagrams, but the poetry of the stars is in the silent meeting of soul with soul, at the confluence of the light and the dark, where the infinite, prints its kiss on the forehead of the finite, where we can hear the music of the Great I Am pealing from the grand organ of creation through its countless reeds in endless harmony”. Treating God only as the Infinite may be easy to explain within the classroom called life; but to experience His Divine presence the poetry of the Finite forms have to be experienced. The Upanishads vouch this – “They enter the region of darkness who pursue the transitory. But they enter the region of still greater darkness who pursue the eternal. He who knows the transitory and the eternal combined together crosses the steps of death by the help of the transitory and reaches immortality by the help of the eternal.”
Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji said, “As a small cup cannot become the receptacle for the vast waters of an ocean, so the limited human mind cannot contain the universal Christ Consciousness. But when, by meditation, one continues to enlarge his mind, he finally attains Omniscience. He becomes united with the Divine Intelligence that permeates the atoms of creation”. Till our consciousness grows to experience the boundary-less Infinite, let us not relinquish our Finite understanding of this beautiful ‘God’ who is the cause of our very existence and the effect of all our perceptions. Don’t cage Him within a limited form. But neither lose Him in Infinity. Accept ‘God’ as the Infinite who has become Finite without losing His Infinity. To me God remains my dearest friend, an intrinsic part of me – or rather the whole of me – my consciousness of this ‘Self’ both within and without.
Written by Gita Krishna Raj | Published in infinithoughts in November 2003